Mandela-isation of Anwar?

by Azly Rahman

“Man proposes, god disposes”
Thomas a Kempis, ‘Of The Imitation of Christ’

While America awaits The Super Bowl, Malaysia awaits The Super Trial II this week to listen to the arguments concerning the predicament of Anwar Ibrahim.
Philosophically, what ought to be the shape of things to come? Where do we go from here, as a nation? Where do we wish to bring this nation that is in need of deep reflection on the meaning of nationhood and democracy?

Maturity after Mahathirism

If we take 1998 as a framework in looking at the changes this country is seeing politically, Anwar can be seen as an embodiment of Nelson Mandela.

His spirit did not die for the six years he was jailed and upon his release a momentum was created that grew in strength to first, become institutionalised in the form of a strong Parti Keadilan Rakyat and next, of Pakatan Rakyat.

Divine intervention and human design propelled such changes – the evolution of a one-party Mahathiristic construct to an emerging two-party counter-hegemonic system that is making the current regime fearful and tremble.

Indeed from 1998 to 2010, Malaysians not also saw an evolution of critical sensibility but waves upon waves of loud protests on the streets, in parliament, in cyberspace, and in the minds of Malaysians against the excesses of the Mahathirist-inspired totalitarianism and autocraticism.

Malaysians have matured, in a way. Only the civil servants and those employed and caressed to obedience by the ruling regime have not fully matured in terms of civil libertarianism. Understandably one cannot bite the hands that feed, as the iron hands will pound violently once bitten.

If twelve to fifteen years ago, Malaysians dared not speak of Malay rights, corruption, controlling interests in Barisan Nasional, definition of bumiputera, and the means and methods of thought-control and sword of Damocles of the ruling regime – the situation has dramatically changed.

It is as if the release of Anwar from his six years of incarceration signify, as postmodernists such as Fredrick Jameson would say, a ‘rupture’ and the ‘waning of effect of the ruling totalitarian regime.

The Internet, a Frankenstein of postmodern times and an avatar of chaos and complexity and a protean technology of both democratic and demagogic thinking, aided the Malaysian revolution in thinking.

What is revealed on the Internet becomes a launching pad for real-time street protests and many times too, prosecution of this or that person for corruption and other forms of ‘transgressions’ done in the name of politics; transgression ala a political version, Tiger Woods-stylised, in which revelations can become ugly, cancerous and financially disastrous.

Anwar Ibrahim has become a rallying point for this new wave of revolution – not merely a reformation in fact – of a new form of consciousness albeit plagued with consistent cluster-bombing and carpet-bombings done by those who wish to stop it on its tracks, Machiavellian-styled.

Challenging obedience

How has the new consciousness eroded the sense of obedience to authority, particularly of the Malays – often considered the most obedient human beings on Earth?

Like those rallying behind Nelson Mandela (far right) circa apartheid in South Africa, Malaysians are seeing the Mandela-isation of Anwar Ibrahim particularly his second trial.

It is not Anwar who is on trial – it is the will of Malaysians of all walks of life, ethnic groups, religious conviction, class, and caste, that are on trial. It is the growing urge to come together and dismantle the excesses of race-based politics and the ugly manifestations of greed via political creed that is on trial.

Beginning from the political ‘honey-mooning’ years of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his failure to make reforms to all forms of repressive and intolerable acts right up to this day wherein all’s-not-well-ends-not well’ is the feature of the present government that is quite certain seeing its demise.

Beginning from the show of arrogance of UMNO particularly to an even worse show of that same arrogance in issues of combating corruption, fixing the judiciary, improving the universities, egalitarian-ising and equilibrium-ising the education system, teaching religious and racial tolerance – Malaysian have seen enough of a breakdown of what once looked like a showcase of ‘civil society’.

The rallies, the water cannons, the chemical-laced sprays, the deaths of Altantuya, Kugan, Teoh Beng Hock, and the Perak parliamentary plague – all these are amongst the demonic verses of the narrative of this nation that are inspiring the rise of ‘civil disobedience’. “Dissent, is the highest form of patriotism,” said the American philosopher-president-statesman Thomas Jefferson – and this is what Malaysians are embodying as a cultural-political philosophy.

Maybe we are seeing the Mandela-isation of Anwar Ibrahim. And we ought to see that as a philosophical global-positioning-system circa the next general election. The coming election will see total rupture after a fierce struggle over the mandate to rule.

Change can be painful, but change must a nation go through. It is through the regimented swallowing of bitter pill can maladies be cured. For too long, especially during the Mahathirist years, Malaysians have been given Prozac and serenaded with feel-good stories of being grateful and not biting the hands that feed to a point of numbness and total obedience, that it takes this country to the verge of destruction for us to wake up and to smell the Napalm in all its morning glory – as our own ‘Apocalypse Now’.

It will be an interesting week ahead. May we continue to live in interesting times, as what Chairman Mao Zedong would say. How this weeks’ episode will end will depend on how: “Man proposes, God disposes”.

  1. #1 by Dap man on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 - 8:59 am

    Yes, some Malays (those in PKR and PAS) have opened their eyes and can see UMNO’s excesses buy I am sad the vast majority are still blind.

    Corruption, emasculation of the judiciary, racism, economy, police abuse – all do not matter.

    All they care is protection of race and its dominance over others.

    UMNO is using their gullibility to cling on to power even if it has to destroy the very fabric of the nation.
    A dangerous game but the Malays don’t see it.

  2. #2 by chengho on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 - 9:17 am

    dap man,
    nothing to do with skin color man , every race , every group , every ngo only thinking about their interest . from small we go to diff school so what do you expect the commonalities , we dont even speak the same lingo . people like azly rahman simply running away from mother Malaysia and hit back under the belt . look at China and learn how they are becoming the superpower now.

  3. #3 by Comrade on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 - 9:43 am

    In a developed country anywhere
    Its leaders must be disciplined and fair
    Not building castles in the air
    Having good governance beyond compare
    But this is not the state of affairs over here
    Malaysia is headed towards nowhere
    The symptoms and scandals are all there
    As evidences of bad politics that need repair
    We must all wake up and not despair
    Bring in an alternative gov’t that is fair and square

  4. #4 by k1980 on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 - 10:48 am

    In honor of the mamak for destroying the Tunku’s vision for Malaysia, the country should be renamed Mamaksia.

  5. #5 by dagen on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 - 10:52 am

    Countries like china, japan, korea, UK and many others enjoy one major advantage. Racial homogeneity. It is a lot easier in these countries for the people to move together whether for or against a certain idea. We have racial diversity and dividing the races up further will almost certainly ensure that the nation will never move as one. This is definitely a weakness – not strength. Jibby’s 1malaysia is a slogan in the right direction. Yes. It is only a slogan.

    At the same time racial diversity and divide is a fantastic political tool – a tool which has been taken full advantage of by the unscrupulous umno. A good workman however will always change his tools so that he could improve his work. Here umno simply re-use the same tool over and over again; even when it is already apparent to all that the tool is too old and broken and not longer serve the purpose. This is the other problem with umno. Unwillingness to change and adapt to changing situations even in the face of demands by the people and vastly differing circumstances and environment.

    US is a giant melting pot. Why cant we be a small melting pot? For many decades now, racism is illegal is US. Of course racism still exist there. It can never be eradicated completely. Then again, obama is now president of US. In malaysia racism is the very foundation of all umno’s actions, decisions and policies. In fact, racism has morphed into a right – a privilege – of the common malays and now an unquestionable birth right of the elite malays – the umnoputras.

    The situation has turned extremely bad for for country because almost everyone I knew (esp non-malays) are either in the midst of migrating or express a desire to move to another country. And their unanimous reason: No confidence in the umno government! Umno has lost all reasons to carry on. Umno must not be denied comprehensively come GE13.

  6. #6 by dagen on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 - 11:41 am

    We lost perak in federal court!

    And by a unanimous umno-backed decision.


    Gear up for GE13, boys.

  7. #7 by Bunch of Suckers on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 - 12:40 pm

    These suck*rs, they rip, su*k, lick, rape, bullsh*t, show-off, abuse, bully, grab, snatch, pinch & etc etc… to stay in powers….

    Without a single powerful opposition party to pursue democratic two-party system, Malaysia can never be a developed nation by 2020. Bakuthir’s visions are all bullsh*ts as to rip and win voters with full supports.

    China heading toward superpower because it punishes corrupted officers with death sentences & discredit from Party, if caught. In Bodonland, they are being protected and hung on the positions without penalties or punishments, instead being promoted!

  8. #8 by DCLXVI on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 - 1:02 pm

    Comrade :In a developed country anywhereIts leaders must be disciplined and fairNot building castles in the airHaving good governance beyond compareBut this is not the state of affairs over hereMalaysia is headed towards nowhereThe symptoms and scandals are all thereAs evidences of bad politics that need repairWe must all wake up and not despairBring in an alternative gov’t that is fair and square

    Comrade, it does really rhymes and shines……

  9. #9 by johnnypok on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 - 1:04 pm

    LKS benifited from ISA with a law-degree.

    DSAI = Savior of Bolehland

  10. #10 by DCLXVI on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 - 1:19 pm

    chengho: nothing to do with skin color man , every race , every group , every ngo only thinking about their interest

    That three major component parties of BN have the mention race in their names which makes it something to do with skin colour, but anyway, it’s true that their only thinking more about their interests instead of the people and the nation…

    chengho: from small we go to diff school so what do you expect the commonalities , we dont even speak the same lingo .

    Malaysians from different walks of life are still able to communicate with each other using the common lingua franca of Bahasa Malaysia and English.

  11. #11 by k1980 on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 - 2:17 pm

    Up to 10 MPs from PR are expected to cross over to BN soon, giving it a 2/3 majority in Parliament.

  12. #12 by DCLXVI on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 - 2:43 pm

    chengho: people like azly rahman simply running away from mother Malaysia and hit back under the belt .

    People like Anwar Ibrahim and Mohd. Nizar did not run away from the courts although they knew the judiciary, which is now to Umno’s flavour, can hit them below the belt.

    chengho: look at China and learn how they are becoming the superpower now.

    Seems there is no stopping an ardent supporter of Umno to propose the People’s Republic of China one-party system as a political model for Umno to stay in power.

  13. #13 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 - 2:51 pm

    Dr. Rahman is an academic liberal which I understand but really Anwar=Mandela? How does that even help?

    Anwar is no Mandela. Mandela was never close to and party to the corrupt throne and lost it. More accurate is Malaysian, spoilt that they are, want a Mandela and yet know they don’t have one among them.

    No, what Malaysia has is at best a Ronald Reagan or a Margaret Thatcher. He is imperfect and yet all the reason to support despite his imperfection.

    What is happening is a class struggle between the feudal lords of UMNO/BN and the rest of the country. The feudal lords are betting that the serfs are well-fed that they won’t revolt. Its up to Malaysian to rise to the occasion and say that they are no serfs.

    What is most worrying is that Malaysian are waiting for the outcome of Anwar trial. It should not matter what the outcome is as it should not matter what the outcome of Perak MB ruling is. The desire for change must be our own and a function of what we want in the future. We don’t need Anwar or Federal Court to lead us. We tell them what we want. We tell them by willingness to act over our own imperfections and overcoming weakness they think they can exploit…

    No we should vote for Anwar as Americans voted for Reagan and Brits voted for Thatcher despite their flaws, and the obvious downside. We need a Anwar revolution like American had their Reagan Revolution..Brits had their Thatcher Revolution

  14. #14 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 - 3:06 pm

    Here is a suggestion.

    Link Perak MB and Anwar trial to impending GST and removing subsidies on energy and essentials. They spend more time thinking of ways to ignore people and spend less time thinking of new way to rob money from people…

    THAT is a more winning strategy…

  15. #15 by ctc537 on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 - 3:34 pm

    Umno would like the majority Malays to always believe that they are under threat from the minority races. But how long will the majority Malays adhere to this way of thinking? I think it depends more on how the economy performs than other factors such as race and religion.
    Some people want to compare Malaysia with China. Make no mistake, China has become so strong economically not because of Communism or clever political manipulation by their successive leaders. The late leader Deng Xiao Ping once told an American delegation that what the 1 billion or so Chinese want is to ‘fa cai’ or become rich, so that foreigners will no longer look down on them. So, Deng and the successive leaders pursued this goal with single-minded determination. At the same time, the Chinese Communist Party made sure that joining politics is definitely not the way to get rich, unlike in our country as we can see how the lifestyles of many of our politicians are nowadays. Over-emphasis on race and religion is not the right way to run a multi-racial and multi-religious country. In fact, it could be the best recipe for the destruction of the country.
    No wonder more and more Malaysians are being attracted to PR’s multi-racialism led by Anwar. What Umno leaders do not seem to know is that the majority Malays can only feel proud of their own kind when they can successfully compete with other races and in the international environment without government help, and NOT making themselves feel good by stifling the success of other races in the country.
    As a non-Malay, I would like to see the progress of the majority Malays, but they must be motivated without this ketuanan thinking. One day, the majority Malays will change their thinking or they will reform the party. And change the country for the bettter. That is for sure.

  16. #16 by vsp on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 - 3:51 pm

    PK have themselves to blame for the outcome. It is no secret that the PK is very divisive among themselves. In every PK component party there are many selfish and arrogant representatives that doesn’t give a hoot of what the public expect of them. And the worse of the lot are those from PKR.

    The PKR is supposed to be the middle-ground party but it disappoints big time. The PKR is crawling with trojan horses and self-inflated egoistic individuals. Its leadership is lackadaisical and does not possess the ability to do what is right. The Perak crisis is the direct result of the quagmire that the PK is in. The biggest liability the the PKR has is Anwar Ibrahim. After the 2008 electoral tsunami, Anwar went from one mistakes after another. Instead of leading the PK coalition he decided to pander to short-cut solutions and refused to acknowledge the rot in the coalition.

    And today the coalition is paying the price for Anwar’s neglect. The public would have forgiven the coalition for its failure if they have tried their best but not when it was self-inflicted.

    It’s really sad indeed: the PK was given an opportunity but they squander it.

  17. #17 by Winston on Tuesday, 9 February 2010 - 7:14 pm

    If you want a better future, just dump
    the UMNO/BN government!

  18. #18 by HJ Angus on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 - 7:33 am

    I agree with Winston.
    We need to create the 2-party system for Malaysia to reform.
    Anwar is no saint but he is better than anyone in the ruling party by far.

  19. #19 by Comrade on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 - 9:46 am

    I agree with HJ Angus

    Anwar is better than anyone in the ruling party by far
    LKS, KS and NA are also on par
    Create the 2-party system to spar
    Next GE let PR wins and be the star

  20. #20 by riversandlakes on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 - 10:40 pm

    Najib is worthless. I say the first order of any true Prime Minister of Malaysia is to set up an independent ICAC to stamp out corruption within one year.

    Then dismantle the NEP and help all poor Malaysians and students regardless of race. Meritocracy is long overdue and has been sullied by no one other than Mahathir to further his selfish interests.

    There is a sure ending to this story. When we become a net importer of petroleum, perhaps then, we’ll wake up. Oops, perhaps then the government of the day will resort to stealing elections en masse.

  21. #21 by Black Arrow on Thursday, 11 February 2010 - 10:08 am

    Pakatan Rakyat have to focus on gaining the rakyat’s support, should use the GST topic to garner votes for the next GE.

  22. #22 by good coolie on Sunday, 14 February 2010 - 3:44 pm

    Time to revise our school work:-
    i) Dr. Mahatir was the Machiavelli of Malaysia;
    ii) Anwar, as UMNO stock, had similar
    weaknesses – he could play the race and
    religion card as well as any other;
    iii) Anwar is the lesser of two evils; the
    penitent seems to have seen the light of
    day and regrets associating with Barisan;
    iv) If the government changes next G.E. then
    the two-party system will result in
    the faults of each side being exposed by
    the other; AND,
    v) By the time the next G.E. arrives, the
    Pakatan Rakyat would have mastered the
    art of nominating human candidates (not

  23. #23 by riversandlakes on Thursday, 18 February 2010 - 7:13 pm

    I’m collecting links of articles from reputable news organizations on the shame that is this sodomy trial.

    Read VOA’s “Anwar Sodomy Trial Hurts Malaysia’s Reputation”

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